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While it’s not as popular as the Ram 1500 or the Ford F-150, the GMC Sierra 1500 is still one of the most capable trucks you can buy. This truck has been around since 2007 and has shockingly little complaints compared to its rivals. If you can’t afford to buy the newest 2020 model, a used truck from an earlier year will probably get the job done.

Even the earliest model had great crash test scores, multiple engine options, and a big list of standard safety features. However, it’s not the perfect truck. If you’re looking to buy a used Sierra 1500 soon, here are the years you should avoid.

Lighting issues

The most common complaint among drivers of this truck was related to external lighting. This was a recurring issue in the 2014-2015 years across multiple trims. Drivers reported that their headlights failed to illuminate the road properly, especially during heavy rain or while driving at night. No improvement was noted even when switching to high beams. 

Most users speculate that the reason for this issue was the automaker’s use of cheap light bulbs. GMC never issued a recall over its headlights, but thankfully it wasn’t an expensive fix. Most ended up paying only $200 at an auto shop, and some were even able to replace the bulbs on their own.

Bad brakes

In 2015, the Sierra 1500 also suffered from brake problems. Drivers experienced a loss of power while braking, especially when trying to make right turns. Even while driving at low speeds, consumers said that the brake pedal could only be pressed down with a large amount of force.

In some cases, the brake system had to be replaced entirely. On average, drivers paid $930 for this repair. The automaker never issued a recall over the stiff brakes.

Steering problems

The GMC Sierra has been prone to steering issues in earlier years, but drivers experienced it the most while driving the 2014 model. An audible thump was heard after turning the wheel, and sometimes the steering would fail entirely. GMC later released a recall over an issue with loss of power steering, which addressed most of the complaints.

Poor exterior lighting was also a problem for this model year, as well as other electrical problems. Some experienced problems getting the engine to start, while others experienced an engine shut-down while driving.

A/C malfunctions

Another common problem with 2015 GMC Sierras is a broken air conditioning system. It was most prevalent in trucks with the 5.3-liter and 6.2-liter V8 engines. In some cases, only the condenser or the compressor needed to be replaced, which costs around $500 each. Even worse, some drivers had to replace these components multiple times.

Less fortunate drivers had to replace their truck’s A/C unit entirely at upwards of $1,000. GM never issued a recall over this issue, even while facing numerous lawsuits from dissatisfied consumers.

What’s the best year for the GMC Sierra 1500?

For the 2016 model year, things improved significantly. The lighting issue that had plagued so many trucks in previous years was finally fixed. Drivers only reported a few transmission problems and stiff brakes.

If you want to buy a used Sierra, any year that’s not 2014 or 2015 is your best bet. 2014 was the first year of a redesign, which may have contributed to the rise of new issues. Later models had complaints about the brakes and transmission, but these were few and far between. Overall, the Sierra 1500 has had noticeably fewer issues and recalls than its most popular competitors.